Sunday, December 7, 2008


The semester is coming to a close and at this point, I always wonder about how to test my students. The "rule" at my university is that the test must include some sort of oral component, but besides that, they leave it up to us. And...the title of the course is "Practical English Communication," so in my mind, the test should include some sort of test of how well the students can communicate, practically, in English. And so that kind of leaves the following options:

1. A speech of some sort. Some teachers put a big emphasis upon this, but a speech is more an academic thing to me and not a true test of communication skills. Communication, is more of a 2-way thing I think.

2. A dialogue, that two or three students memorize. Many of my fellow teachers do this, but I'm not sure this is ideal either. Generally, the best students will write it, and then everyone will memorize. To me, memorization isn't really a true test of English communication.

3. Question and answers (conversation) between 2 students, chosen at random, not before the test. This seems like a good idea in a class where everyone is the same level. But in my classes, some people are actually pretty good at conversing with me on a variety of topics, while some can barely say their name in English. So I think it would be kind of unfair to the better students.

4. Questions and answers (with me), individually. This is what I do...each student will come to my office and we'll have a 3-5 minute conversation. I think this is basically the only true test of how well the students are able to converse orally about the topics we discussed in class. I wish there was a better way that didn't involve me doing so much of the work though.

Any thoughts? What do you do?

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